A waxing iron is a special type of heating iron used to apply wax to skis and snowboards. Before discussing types and uses of a waxing iron, it is important to understand the structure of modern skis and snowboards and why it is important to wax them.
Ski bases. The bottoms of modern skis and snowboards are made from polyethylene which have a very high molecular weight. This base material is dense, resists abrasion, and has a low friction rating. It is treated to absorb wax and bond easily with epoxy resin, allowing it to efficiently mold with the upper parts of the ski or snowboard. It is marketed worldwide as P-tex, Isospeed, or Durasurf.
Why wax? When skis, or a snowboard, glide over snow, the friction generated produces a very thin layer of water between the ski and the snow. This continuous layer of water creates suction and slows down the ski. Ski wax and snowboard wax, in effect, make skis waterproof and breaks the layer of water up into tiny droplets which allow the ski to move more quickly and accurately over the snow.
Waxing is an important maintenance and performance aspect of skiing and snowboarding. Ski and snowboard wax can be a paste, a liquid or melted hot wax. Paste and liquid wax are rubbed directly onto the base of the ski but wear off quickly. Melted hot wax is dripped onto the base of the ski and then ironed into the base to form a smooth and longer lasting surface.
Hot wax is applied using a waxing iron. Waxing irons are flatter and thicker than regular irons and lack the steam holes found in almost all fabric irons made today. Home irons can be used to apply wax to skis and snowboards, but it is not recommended. The temperature of a typical fabric iron cannot be controlled as accurately as that of hot waxing irons, and the temperature across the relatively thin base of the fabric iron fluctuates significantly. Accurate and even temperature of the iron is the single most critical aspect of applying wax.
The basic steps for waxing are:
1. Make sure the base of the skis or snowboard are clean, smooth and damage free.
2. Preheat the ski waxing iron or snowboard waxing iron for 30 minutes before applying wax.
3. Apply wax to the base of the ski or snowboard by melting it against the bottom of the waxing iron and dripping it along the base in a line.
4. Re-melt and smooth the drips of wax into an even coating from tip to tail with the iron. Do not overheat.
5. When dry, scrape excess wax off.
6. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
When buying waxing irons, look for an adjustable waxing iron that can be set to the heat required for different types of waxes. The iron should also have good corrosion resistance and an angled heating plate to make the application of wax powders easier. Expect to spend at least $80 to $100 US Dollars (USD) for a good quality iron.